The first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox is a day more commonly known as Easter Sunday. With the new life of spring comes the new life of Christ. As the earth awakens out of its winter slumber, here are 10 ways to help your soul do the same during the Easter season.
1. Embrace the joy.
It is not a coincidence that Lent is 40 days and Easter is 50 days. The message is clear — it is time to rejoice and be glad because this is the day the Lord has made! The world around us often prefers pessimism over joy, but joy is the light that we can allow to shine brightly before others.
2. Read the Acts of the Apostles.
Filled with the Holy Spirit, the Apostles did not stop proclaiming Christ as risen from the dead. With his first Spirit-filled homily, Peter inspired 3,000 people to join the church. At 28 chapters long, the Book of Acts could be an inspiring read for your Easter season. The same Holy Spirit who enlivened the Apostles still enlivens us today!
3. Make a pilgrimage.
Going on a journey to encounter Christ in a new way is an ancient Christian tradition. A pilgrimage does not have to be a long journey. Have you heard about a beautiful church in our diocese that you have never visited? How about our Cathedral? There are Catholic saints buried as close to us as St. Charles, Mo., and Terre Haute, Ind. Put your pilgrimage on the calendar and make it happen.
4. Pray to the Holy Spirit.
Easter concludes with the celebration of Pentecost, which ends the Easter Season with fanfare. Pentecost Sunday is like a second Easter in many ways. There is a vigil celebration, and a sequence is sung between the second reading and the Gospel. Easter is also a preparation for the sending of the Holy Spirit. Come, Holy Spirit! Let the fire of your love fall upon us.
5. Pray alongside Mary.
Mary accompanied the fledgling church, especially as the Apostles prayed for the coming of the Holy Spirit in the upper room. She wants to accompany us too. The Glorious Mysteries of the rosary will help you see the life of Jesus through Mary’s eyes. What would it have been like for Mary to encounter her Son, risen from the dead? You can ask her yourself.
6. Go to eucharistic adoration.
The stories of the Resurrection of Jesus are not only memories of something that happened long ago. In the Eucharist, the risen body of Jesus is present and alive, and his beating heart invites us to visit him. We do not place our fingers in his hands and his side as Thomas did, but we can share the faith that he had in our risen Lord. “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
7. Enjoy a true feast.
The great fast of Lent is over, and the church invites us to celebrate. When was the last time you truly enjoyed a meal? Invite some friends or family over to share an intentionally prepared, homemade feast. It is amazing how a good meal can bind friends together. Jesus used meals to reveal some of his greatest gifts, like the priesthood and the Eucharist. With the two Disciples in Emmaus, we can say to Jesus, “Stay with us,” and he will gladly accept our invitation.
8. Discern your charism(s).
Given in baptism and strengthened in confirmation, Jesus has given each of us charisms for the building up of the church. Every Christian has a charism. If you do not know what your charism is, you probably aren’t using it to its full potential! Encouragement, leadership, intercession, hospitality, and the list goes on. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you discover your charism because the church needs your gifts.
9. Sing some Easter hymns.
Singing together in church has been one of the casualties of COVID. However, this does not have to be the case in your house. Play Handel’s Messiah or Jesus Christ is Risen Today and sing along. Some joyful music can bring consolation to a weary heart, especially music full of Alleluia’s.
10. Appreciate all life around you.
The Resurrection is not something we should take for granted. Billions of people in the world today still do not know who Christ is. What is the reason for their hope in this life or the next? I honestly do not know. As Christians, we can find Christ’s resurrected life everywhere: in newborn babies, the elderly, and our own baptized souls. May we all experience the fullness of Christ’s resurrected life one day in Heaven!
Father Dominic Vahling is parochial vicar at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield and is a co-chaplain at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School.